Funk Fridays: Snoopzilla & Dam-Funk – Do My Thang

Dam-Funk, Funk Friday, G-Funk, Snoop Dogg, Snoopzilla

It’s roughly 20 years since Snoop Doggy Dogg’s seminal album Doggystyle was released and in that time he’s undergone a pretty wild transformation. From the start of his career as hip-hop’s scariest rapper on the world’s most dangerous record label, to a detour down south with Master P, to acting, *ahem* adult movies, Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, selling his soul commercial songs with David Guetta and…Rastafarianism resulting in an ill-advised foree into reggae… the less said about that, the better.

However, for his latest musical outing, Snoop Lion has now transformed into Snoopzilla and enlisted the help of LA funk producer Dam-Funk for an EP 7 Days of Funk. Now, on behalf of all the real Snoop Dogg fans, I would like to say…THANK YOU!

Snoop’s laidback delivery always sounds best over G-funk drenched beats and this EP is no exception. Yes, there is the inevitable use of autotune, that Snoop has somehow become addicted to (in addition to his other vices), and arguably the production steals the show. Let’s be honest, no one listens to Snoop for the lyrics. But the flow (and the autotune) perfectly fit the early 80’s vibe of the album.

One of my favourite songs is ‘Do My Thang’. What’s it about? Nothing, apart from having a good time. This song, much like the rest of the album doesn’t take itself seriously and that’s what I love about it. Laidback vibes to relax to, so if you’re feeling in the mood, press play. In fact, get the whole album and enjoy 7 Days of Funk.

Funk Fridays: Bar Kays – Freakshow on the Dancefloor

Bar-Kays, Breakin', Funk Friday, Ozone, Turbo

If there’s one tune that’s guaranteed to get me dancing regardless of where I am (in my house/on the way to work/on the tube) it’s this! But first, a short backstory…

As a kid I used to watch recordings of soul train, solid soul and top of the pops. One day I happened to come across a video called ‘Breakin’. It was the start of my lifelong interest in breakdancing and body-popping. One scene in particular took place at an LA beach involving a showdown between the good guys and the bad guys and, watched by a Lycra bodysuit-clad, pre-predator Jean Claude Van Damme, they got down to battle. The scene was one of many iconic scenes in that film but the soundtrack to the battle was provided by a band called, The Bar-Kays.

The Bar-Kay’s hailed from Memphis Tennessee and had a string of hits from the late 60’s to the late 80’s. Their affiliation with Otis Redding may be what propelled them to stardom but this song took them to greatness. The association with the film ‘Breakin’ may have meant that this song was not always given the props it deserves but make no mistake – this is a funk classic that stands the test of time. So excuse me while I get my robot on and start breaking on the beach. Enjoy.

Funk Friday: Gap Band – Early In The Morning

Charlie Wilson, Funk Friday, Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg, The Gap Band

A few weeks back BET pleasantly surprised us all by putting on an awards show that wasn’t entirely ignorant and featured acts that didn’t make me want to cry out in despair for our music. My favourite part of the show was the tribute to the living legend that is… Charlie Wilson.

For the younger readers, Charlie isn’t just that old guy who sings with Snoop Dogg and Justin Timberlake. Nope. He’s one of the great musical pioneers with a career spanning from Funk to Soul to modern R&B and even a little bit of hip-hop in between. However, he is perhaps most famous for his work with The Gap Band who had a run of hits from the late 70’s through to the mid-80’s. Songs such as ‘Oops Upside Your Head’ and ‘Outstanding’ ensured their place in R&B history.

When picking a song for Funk Friday there was almost too much choice. In fact, scratch that. There WAS TOO MUCH CHOICE. It turns out that the Gap Band are one of the most sampled bands in history so I may just have to revisit their back catalogue in the near future. However, today, I have settled on… Early In The Morning…

The video is pure 80’s funk cliche. You’ve got the concert style video, cowboy hats and dance routines. I wish more bands these days would have dance routines in their videos. Sidenote: How are these guys dancing better than peeps like One Direction, when they’re double their age and carrying instruments? It’s because they’ve got the funk.

Notable samples of this classic include:

Janet Jackson – ‘If’:

The guitars at about 0.30.

AND of course:

Snoop Dogg ft Justin Timberlake and Charlie Wilson – Signs

Uncle Charlie’s adlibs are all over this song and then at 2:35 he adds an interpolation of the original song into this 2005 hit. Oooohweee!

Funk Fridays: Finis Henderson – Skip To My Lou

Finis Henderson, Funk Friday, Motown

Yes, it’s been a while since the last Funk Friday, but I’m back like high-top fades.

Back in the 80’s, when Motown was just a sinking ship and still clinging on to past glories of the 60’s and early 70’s, they took a gamble and signed an upcoming singer/comedian (yes, that’s right – bear with me) who went by the name, Finis Henderson. He released an album, imaginatively titled Finis with a camp 80’s cover of the main man looking like a cross between Raw-era Eddie Murphy and Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ pose.

The most successful single was ‘Skip To My Loo’. This was an obscure hit but has managed to become a cult classic and randomly, a staple at many a Nigerian party that I’ve been to. The falsetto chorus may be a little cheesy but the overall funkiness and authentic 80’s feel render this an underrated classic. Finis has found success through comedy shows and cruise ships but for a (very) brief moment in the 80’s, he had the funk. Salute.

Funk Fridays: Fatback Band – "I Found Lovin’"

Fatback Band, Funk Friday

If there’s one song that epitomises a credible crossing over of funk and pop, it would definitely be this song. As popular as this song has become in recent times in the mainstream (I’ve heard this song everywhere from Wetherspoons to Ikea), its roots are still heavily grounded in funk.

The Fatback band, enjoyed a succession of hits from the late 70’s to the early 80’s but this song has almost taken on legendary status. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that is quite possibly one of my favourite songs of all time, from the smooth vocals to the heavily early 80’s synths. It never fails to go down well in a party. In fact, in the UK the song was so good it got released twice (1984 and 1986).

It’s a travesty that an official video wasn’t released for this song, but hey – this was the mid-80’s I guess. The music did most of the talking. The clip shown above is from Top of The Pops back in 1986 (check the high-top) and is probably the best we’re gonna get in terms of a real performance. I have to respect the shapes that he’s cutting on the floor though.

Usually, this is the point where I list the samples and give you links etc… but strangely despite its popularity. “I Found Lovin'” hasn’t actually been sampled that much, save for an All Saints song and a Monie Love track. The All Saints version hurt my ears so I won’t bother linking that. Perhaps it’s best that way – I wouldn’t want to tarnish the memories…

Funk Fridays: Funkadelic – "One Nation Under A Groove"

EPMD, Funk Friday, Funkadelic, G-Funk, Ice Cube, Janet Jackson

It might be verging on cliche to do another Funkadelic tune for Funk Friday but this tune is so synonymous with the genre that it’s hard not to include it.

This ode to the funk starts off abruptly with barely an introduction and then carries on to the infamous chorus:

“One nation under a groove,
Gettin’ down just for the funk of it”

The thing that stands out for me aside from the irresistible groove, is the layered production and the sheer variety of instruments on the track. In a time of 808’s and synthesisers, the instrumentation on this track is refreshing.

Just like the other Funkadelic entry on this site, this song has been sampled countless times in recent years but here are a few of the more notable ones:

Ice Cube – “Bop Gun”: Updated for the G-Funk era by Ice Cube, this received full endorsement from George Clinton as he redid the hook and even appeared in the video.

Janet Jackson – “Go Deep”: Huge tune harking back to my early adolescence with Janet looking particularly hot in red hair… *sigh*. Oh yeah, and there’s also a sneaky sample of the Funkadelic tune in there somewhere.

EPMD – “So Watcha Sayin”: Some classic old school hiphop, in the era before they paid royalties for samples (probably), the sample appears at 1:25 in the chorus.

Funk Fridays: Rick James – "Give It To Me Baby"

Funk Friday, Rick James

Yes, I’m aware it’s not Friday but…”Never mind what you thought it was…It’s Rick James, bitch!”

For fans of the Chapelle Show, the name Rick James conjures up images of high heels on couches, excessive drug-taking and beds full of 10 women at a time. And while that probably isn’t too far from the truth, let’s try and remember Rick for the thing that matters. No, not his illustrious hair (which could probably be a post in itself) but the music.

Rick James was one of those artists that wasn’t afraid to take risks. His style was funk infused with rock and his fashion was pure flamboyance. “Give It To Me Baby” and the accompanying video embody those elements, especially the sheer campery of the last few scenes and Rick in his speedos cavorting with his conquest. How many stars would do that in a video now??

This track is personified by the infectious bassline that is ever present through the song and the chorus is simple but straight to the point.

As far as samples go, this song hasn’t been as blatantly ripped off as you would have thought but notable samples include:

  • Jay-Z – “I Just Wanna Love You (Give It 2 Me) – Not so much in the instrumentation but the chorus lifts from the Rick James classic.
  • MC Hammer – ““Yo Sweetness” – The man and the legend, MC Hammer appreciated real music and looped Rick James’ vocals in the chorus once again. They need to drop this song in a club. Like now. (bonus points to MC Hammer for sampling it again on an earlier track “Let’s Get It Started”)

Funk Fridays: Tom Browne: Funkin’ for Jamaica

Funk Friday, Mariah Carey, music, Snoop Dogg, Tom Browne

1980; the beginning of my favourite decade of music. The year that former movie star Ronald Regan stunned politics by becoming the President of the USA, millions were hooked by Dallas’ ‘Who Shot JR’ saga; and the summer Olympics controversially came to Russia. Alas, those events pale in significance to one of the finest musical contributions not just of the decade but of all time *Kanye voice*, when Tom Browne produced this classic anthem, Funkin’ for Jamaica.

 

Tom was a jazz musician in the late 70’s but found fame when this hit blew up. Starting with the blare of the trumpet at the beginning and building slowly, with the addition of the drums, then the piano and bass, the groove is irresistible. Becoming a chart hit in both the UK and the US, this song is still a firm favourite decades later.

 Along with Funkadelic’s Not Just Knee Deep, this has to be one of the most sampled songs in hip-hop history and seems to be one of those songs that you turn to if you are in need of a hit – budding producers, take note. I could probably go on for ages listing the number of times that this song has been sampled but alas they cannot touch the original. However, here are a couple of my favourites anyway:

 Mariah Carey, even during her kerrraaazzzyyyyy ‘Glitter’ period had the sense to use this song on a track with the former James Brown for the 00’s man of the moment, Mystikal back in 2001. ‘Don’t Stop (Get on The Floor)’ was a quality song from the Glitter soundtrack that brought Funkin’ for Jamaica right up to date.

 

On Snoop Dogg’s classic ‘Whats My Name’ the little known club remix (and quite possibly the best remix known to man) uses the Funkin’ for Jamaica bassline in the body of the track before substituting the chorus with “Snoop Doggy Dogg, that what he is….let him get in to you…” Ahhh, the Deathrow label. Experts at making crude choruses sound so darn catchy (shout-out to Nate Dogg on “Ain’t No Fun”).

Funk Fridays: Cameo – She’s Strange

Cameo, Funk Friday, music

If I mentioned the group, Cameo, to you. I guarantee two things would come to mind: the red leather cod piece… And Candy (now hijacked, to my chagrin as the electric slide song). But let’s not succumb to the masses, for as fine as Candy was/is, that was not all that Cameo was about and this post celebrates one of their other classic songs – She’s Strange.

 

This is one of my favourite songs because it just sounds so strangeeerie, almost like a Western. I think it also pays testament to Cameo’s willingness back in the day to embrace different types of music as the majority of the song is rapped. Alright, he’s not flipping metaphors and switching lyrical styles but back in 1984, this was hot ish. Probably. Ahh, the 80’s – a special time when singers were also rappers. Thankfully they don’t do that now. #noChrisBrown #noTreySongz

 

Special mention must go to the video, which incorporates so many elements that are just pure 80’s gold. The jheri curl bouncing in the moonlight, the day-glo colours and the most random shots in video history – a woman’s stiletto squashing a tube of toothpaste (at 1:28) and sensual cake eating (at 3:10). Those images have stayed with me for years.

 

Of course, such a classic song wouldn’t pass by without being sampled numerous times. Most notable ones are:

·        2pac – Young N****z: Blatant sample by Mr Shakur from one of my favourite ‘Pac albums, Me Against The World

·         Snoop Dogg – Crazy: One of my favourite songs from Tha Blue Carpet  Treatment. Took me a while to find the sample, but it’s actually in the hook “walking down the avenuuuue”. Not totally convinced it counts as a sample, more an ‘interpolation’.

·         Snoop Dogg – Leave Me Alone: More Snoop funkiness, containing him singing parts of the Cameo classic

Funk Fridays: Funkadelic: Not Just Knee Deep

Funk Friday, Funkadelic, G-Funk, music

This might be one of the more obvious posts I’ll do on Funk Friday, mainly because it’s a tune that pretty much anyone with a passing knowledge of Funk music will know. Added to the fact that the song has been sampled a million times, you will understand where I’m coming from.
As a wannabe/aspiring/former body popper and locker (all three), Not Just Knee Deep is our quintessential theme tune. If you look up many a bodypopping competition on youtube, that tune is bound to be featured in one interpretation or the other and it’s fair to say that Funkadelic and George Clinton unwittingly provided the soundtrack to many poppers’ lives.
I blame my parents for introducing me to this song but it’s just so damn funky. And then gets repetitive. But then the funk draws you back in and all is forgiven.
After the original was released back in 1979 and shook up the mothership funk connection throughout the 80’s, nothing could brace us for its resurgence in the 90’s, mainly thanks to the popularity of gangster rap and it’s offshoot G-Funk. It’s almost like rappers forgot that there were other tunes out there to sample, or that they could actually try and make something original. But, who am I to hate. I’ve downloaded most of these tunes and they are just so damn funky that I can’t even hate. In fact, if I was a West Coast rapper in the early 90’s, I probably would have utilised that sample too.
In no particular order, here’s a few of the notable interpretations of the song:
  • Dre Day – Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg: noticeably slowed down sample but we know what time it is
  • De La Soul – ““Me, Myself and I”“: Probably the most blatant use of this sample but tellingly one of De La’s signature songs.
  • Can’t C Me – 2pac – One of my favourite 2pac songs. The “Knee Deep” sample is almost made to sound eerie over 2pac’s venomous raps, Dr Dre’s production and George Clinton’s vocals.

So basically, every sample of this song has been pretty good. Shout out’s to George Clinton and Funkadelic for creating such a timeless tune. Salute!